When planning for an event you need to prepare for the worst and maybe that might mean cancellation of your event for reasons such as lack of ticket sales to weather related incidents. Before getting to the cancellation stage it is good practice to have some contingency plans in place for those unexpected events.
The main goal with a contingency plan is to proceed with the event as best you can so that it can still be a success, even if the resources are reduced:
- Identify the trigger. What, specifically, will cause the implementation of the contingency plan? and decide what actions will be taken, and when? Determine who is in charge at each stage and what type of reporting process they must follow.
- Keep the plan simple, you never know who might need to implement a plan so make sure it is clear and easy to understand by whomever needs to pick it up.
- Consider your resources and how these will be impacted if you have to put Plan B in place. Can you still function ok or will Plan B reduce capabilities to a level that will not be acceptable?
- Identify everyone's needs. Ensure you have included everyone in the planning that will be affected by Plan B. They will know their areas of operations and how they function.
- Include contingency plans in standard operating procedures. Make sure that initial training is provided in the plan and communicate all changes.
- Do you have a rain date up your sleeve?
After you have prepared a contingency plan, make sure you don’t just file it away. As the event changes, the plan will need to change. Continuous improvement is vital, so review and update regularly.
If you have to make the ultimate decision to cancel the event it is best that you prepare for this prior to the event. Questions you need to ask yourself and your team are:
- When do you decide to cancel?
- How do you cancel your event?
- How do you communicate cancellations?
- Who makes these decisions? Do you have a contingency committee who will make the decisions above and also the decision to cancel?
- What timelines are required for these?
As with any contingency or cancellation plan there are other considerations to make:
- What are the financial implications of cancellation?
- Safety vs financial
- Review post event so you can prepare for future events
- How compromised? Attendance/ Entries
- Think sustainability
- Less people coming – will the event still be viable?
- What are your contractual obligations with suppliers, sponsors etc?
- Do you have insurance to cover you in this situation?
Know what success looks like for you and your event. Plan for the foreseeable and prep your team to deal with the unforeseeable.